women's empowerment

Being Small = Going For It Despite The Odds

My startup GlobalNiche equips women to use their online presence to build broader networks, connect to opportunities and be the agent of their own development. Six months ago we launched our product based on 25 years of experience, and we have customers. I submitted it to be featured in a directory of companies empowering women listed by a high profile women's empowerment organization. No dice.

"Come back when you have 1,000 Facebook likes and 1,000 Twitter followers." That was the response. "Oh, and when you have a full-featured website."

Seriously? Didn't see any of those stipulations in the directions to submit. Lot of big companies are listed. Guess they didn't think they needed to specify limits for who's empowering and who's not.

But here's the thing: being a small operation does not mean we are not seriously trying to accomplish our goals. It doesn't mean we will not grow. It doesn't mean the value of our enterprise is suspect. It doesn't mean we aren't empowering women.

Being small and scrappy can mean you're just starting out. Maybe you're seeking funding, incubation, acceleration, and entrepreneurial mentorship. Maybe you're taking the time to apply to be listed in women's empowerment organization directories alongside big name companies. Being small can mean going for it despite the odds.

The organization in question is looking for a baseline of commitment in the space, but they're asking the wrong questions.


Likes and follower counts are known to be gameable metrics. They're called 'empty metrics' by leaders in social media and entrepreneurship with The Lean Startup's Eric Ries shaming them as 'vanity metrics'.

And what is a full-featured site for a bootstrapped startup? What's required beyond a home page, an about page, a blog, an email sign up form, and some pages about products, services, social proof?

Does our site look like we've spent $100k developing it? Nope. We use a handful of industry-decent services and products to produce the site. Even when we institute the fresh look a designer is working on for us right now, we'll still look like a bootstrapped company until we have at least $15k for upgrades we envision.

We need help to take our work to the next level. We're asking for it. We have to start somewhere.

For a women's empowerment organization devoted to inspiring, educating and supporting us to reach our goals, the least it could do is recognize that very fact.

My 40-Over-40 App

The 40-over-40 Women To Watch celebrates women over 40 who are disruptors, role models and makers...creating momentum and changing the world.  It's an initiative by Dare, Dream, Do author Whitney Johnson and 40:20 Vision founder Christina Vuleta. Excerpt from my application.  


How are you disrupting professionally, whether in business, tech, media, entrepreneurship, social good, science, academics, creative arts, or politics?

Are you creating growth, jobs or new products, ideas or services?

My startup GlobalNiche works to train women to use the social web and mobile technology (what we call digital literacy) in alignment with their vision for the world they want to live in order to make that vision a reality both through their own work and through the connections and collaborations they make with others through their web platform. We show them how to do this.

In showing people how to build an effective online presence to connect with broader networks and opportunities, and build social capital, I help people appreciate and tap their own assets and the potential of online spaces to find or make their own jobs.

Along with my cofounder Tara Agacayak, I created a 6-step multimedia program and training system that shows women how to lay a foundation on the web for the work they want to do and the life they want to live.

In our experience, even with the availability of technology, extremely capable women stumble when it comes to sharing their expertise, knowledge, ideas, cause, or voice on the web because they feel uncomfortable using the technology or they feel vulnerable calling attention to themselves or joining a public conversation or taking credit for their ideas. We address these issues by bringing them together in a virtual environment that allows them to interact with one another, learn digital literacy skills and test them out in a supportive community, and encourage them to take the steps toward realizing their vision.

When offered to individuals, our program works to empower their vision for their own life. When offered in community, our program supports the community’s shared goals.


What are some of the outcomes of your work?

What would suggest your greatest achievements are ahead of, not behind, you?

The world is just waking up to the future I’ve been living in. The future I’ve been solving for, and have now created distributable, teachable, learnable, actionable steps for.



How are you a positive role model to younger women: innovating around work/life issues; promoting women for leadership?

Are you innovating around work/life issues; promoting women in leadership, or simply willing to make tough choices?

As a longtime expat and pro in culture, media, I’ve been forced to create my OWN GLOBAL LIFE/WORK SOLUTION …because it didn’t exist yet.

Younger women share that I have validated their instincts, helped them contemplate their own possibilities, and provided them much needed support & structure to operate.

  • A young work-at-home mother says “I am getting organized both in the real world and in my mind. For the first time I am making visual representations of my work and my ideas.”
  • A 30-something author and educator says my support community “became my think-tank, support group, go-to team, and more.”
  • A 30-something global curator tells me “When I hear you talk about identity and multiple cultural personalities and finding your creative outlets no matter where you are, I feel understood.”

I wouldn’t say I’m a positive role model to just younger women. I work with women older than I am and they tell me

  • I “Love the personal & pro growth spurt it’s providing!” in the words of a 60 year old women’s life-transition coach.
  • A university instrucutor also my senior says “I felt smarter and more empowered to make decisions” after receiving my training.
  • While a 50-something global mobility expert and real estate agent says training “generates introspection. It will open your eyes to the potential of online spaces.”


How have you disrupted yourself personally?

How are you personally reinventing or creating a new path? Are you applying your prior experiences in new ways?

My current town of San Francisco may be a tech-forward location but that’s not why I’ve increasingly been turning to technology to help me be where and who I am today. Since living in 30 homes in 4 countries -- talk about personal disruption, try serial personal disruption as a lifestyle -- I’m a globally mobile individual and rely on social & mobile tech for my total, global operation.


Why do you think you are about to 'take off'?

Because after a lifetime of existing in the wilderness, I am finally on-trend.

My custom life-work solution seems torn from today’s headlines and bestseller lists on the topics of future work skills and work-life fit solutions.

  • “Leaning in” to your own life, your own preferred way of living and working.
  • Optimizing your online presence in the age of the personal platform & personal branding, the global microbrand of you, content marketing, the social era.
  • Being recruitable (quotable, invited to speak, hired, you name it) based on the appeal and impact of your web activities in the beyond-the-resume Google age.
  • Your digital footprint IS your resume.
  • Building global community through expression of your interests in the age of resonance and new world order of the interest graph — people who share your interests.
  • Taking charge of your life’s trajectory in the age of the Start-up of You & disrupt-yourself and the ‘everyone’s an entrepreneur of their own lives’ times we all now live in.

Why am I about to 'take off'? Because I have turned to entrepreneurialism, education, and online spaces in order to share what I know more widely.


Talking To Cigdem Kobu's Creative Solopreneurs

Anastasia Ashman interviewed by Cigdem KobuExcerpt from a profile in Cigdem Kobu's A Year With Myself program for introverted creative solopreneurs.

Are you location independent by choice, or necessity? Why?


First by necessity when I lived very far from my culture, removed by thousands of miles by people who knew me, who spoke my language, dislocated from my professional fields. Swallowed up by my foreign-to-me surroundings.

Then, as I realized the power of location independence, I became location independent by choice.

I believe that we all can tap into that same power no matter where we happen to be. If you think about it, we’ve all felt like a fish out of water at some point in our lives, and for too many of us, that’s an on-going feeling we have today. It doesn’t have to be that way.

That’s what GlobalNiche.net is about. You could say we teach people how to be globally unbound -- by choice.

Although expats and international types have more reasons than most to find a way to operate independently of where we happen to be physically, I see now that we don’t even have to leave home to do it.

It’s not about being mobile physically (and working on a beach in Thailand, as many in the location independent and lifestyle design movements talk about).

It’s about being okay with where you are, and setting up your life so you can be fufilled and, unlimited by your surroundings.

With today's economic uncertainties no matter who or where we are, we all have to embrace an enterprising view of ourselves -- a way to operate unlimited by the options around us.

We’re really lucky to be part of a trend toward entrepreneuring and indie creative careers, as well as using the social web and mobile devices to help us achieve what I call “psychic location independence”.

We don’t have to be a tech expert or social media guru to build a micro-yet-global base of operations with a professional web platform and virtual network for continuing education, professional development, and a close-knit but world-flung set of friends. We can be digital world citizens and achieve a cutting-edge state of being.

You believe that our metamorphoses choose us. Can you explain that a little?

I said this after a year on Twitter, back in 2009. I noted that the major undertakings of the year hadn’t rated a 2008 resolution. I didn’t plan any of them.

Nilofer Merchant, a cutting-edge entrepreneur I admire and author of The New How and the upcoming book Social Era Rules, recently tweeted, “Once you find your purpose it pulls you effortlessly into the future.” That’s definitely what happened when I opened a Twitter account and followed the trail of my interests out into the world of all possibility.

I was on soul-auto-pilot. Suddenly I took charge of my own web presence, an intention I hadn’t held, a vision I didn’t see, and a plan I don’t recall making.

All it took was that first microblogging step that lead to a curated-webpath to what I now recognize as my specific interests and larger intentions. I was pulled into my future, effortlessly, and without warning!

I was virtually attending conferences on publishing, interactive media, women’s issues, and participating in live webchats on branding, innovation, and literature.

I became a joiner and a beta-tester, signing on for an experimental blogging course before I even had a blog, and volunteering for a life design course for expat women entrepreneurs that helped me hone my vision and introduced me to my present day business partner, Tara Agacayak.

I experienced a reawakening of my inner student to learn exactly what I needed to know, and fresh direction on how I might contribute to the future of my communities.

I have seen this same thing happen with other people on Twitter too, so if you’re willing to dive in and let your metamorphosis choose you, that is the first place I’d recommend you go.

How do you help other women change their lives?

By sharing my own journey, and how I’ve combined my talents, interests and experience to create solutions for myself.

The largest solution I have to offer is the power to change our own lives by building a custom platform to operate from.

Also, by seeing in them what they could be, and telling them, which gives them the opportunity to see themselves and build their own place in the world.

The Native American Medicine Wheel card for hummingbird really resonates for me. The hummingbird is an agile creature which withdraws nectar from flowers and pollinates them at the same time, making them productive and viable.

I would love to be that force for the women in my life.